I remember that moment, not maybe with perfect accuracy, but I remember through tear stained cheeks, looking in the bathroom mirror of my little one-bedroom apartment thinking, “I don’t know who I am anymore. I am *****’s girlfriend and that’s all I know.”
I had lost myself. The relationship didn’t last much longer after that. But that was the moment that I knew something had to change, or I feared I would lose myself in that relationship forever. He didn’t complete me so much as lead me to feel like a shell of a person, as though I would cease to exist without him.
Relationships can be confidence boosters or confidence suckers, depending on how healthy the relationship is. I talk to a lot of single people on a day to day basis and generally they are looking for a new relationship, someone to “complete them.” This ranges from young teenagers to those 3x divorced, but always looking for the next “other half.”
Jeez, where did we get that idea from? That we need someone else to somehow be “whole?” Going through graduate school, we learned a lot about treating the “whole person.” Never once, did we talk about treating the “half person” waiting until they had found a relationship to be “whole.” But yet, when people get married, they talk about having found their “other half” the person who “completes” them. That’s a lot of pressure huh? If you’re single, you know that many conversations with your married friends or family are centered around whether you’re dating, found a new significant other, etc. I too, am guilty of this, as even I lose sight of what I am about to say at times…
Being single, not in a romantic relationship, is kind of awesome. You do not need another person to be significant in the world or to breathe. You are enough, all by yourself. I know this can feel very weird after a long relationship or when it seems that everyone else is coupled up. And truly, finding someone to share your life with can be amazing. But there is a difference between needing someone to feel whole and feeling whole on your own, creating and loving yourself, and then sharing that with someone else who also recognizes that they have value all on their own.
The next time someone asks you if you are dating anyone yet or when you are getting married, try not to get irritated, but instead change the subject to all the awesome things you are doing, ideas you’ve been pondering, or anything else that is way more interesting than your dating life. Or you can always change the subject to them, as people love to talk about themselves. Maybe next time you see them, they will ask you how that great thing is going in your life, rather than resorting to the go to question about romance.
“Um, what great thing?” You ask. Well, what gives you purpose? What makes you feel like time stops and you lose yourself in it? What do you love to do?
Do more of that. Keep growing, learning, reading, experiencing. These are the things that begin to bring you fulfillment (and gives you something interesting to talk about). Nourish your relationships with friends and family and find meaning and purpose through them. Live your life wholly, fully, beautifully. When things don’t go well, remember that they are temporary and changeable and that all things return to baseline.
But know this: In or out of romance, a relationship does not define you. You are more than someone’s boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, husband, or wife. While that may be part of your identity, it is not the whole story. Find ways to flourish in your every-day life, with or without romance. Open yourself to the truth that you are valuable, radiant, and unstoppable. The next great journey is being discovered in the here and now. Find gratitude in the present.